Sheffield Eagles’ director of rugby Mark Aston is expecting Michael Knowles to shake off a sickness bug to be available for Sunday’s showdown against high-flying London Broncos.
The versatile operator missed the start of the training this week, and remains a doubt as Aston leads his side into a tough encounter against second placed London.
After a defeat in the crunch fixture against Oldham last week, Aston will be sweating over the availability of one of his most trusted lieutenants, as the Eagles look to avoid another blow in their fight to maintain their position in rugby league’s second tier.
“Michael has been off for the first few days of the week with sickness, so he is currently a little bit of a doubt,” Aston admitted to The Star.
“Aside from that we haven’t picked up anymore knocks from the game against Oldham, so we aren’t looking too bad on that front.
“We thought we had turned the corner after the Featherstone game, so last week was massively disappointing. We cannot afford another performance like that.”
Knowles has been one of a cluster of individuals to come in for praise from Aston in recent weeks, despite the up and down nature of the Eagles’ results.
Another who has caught Aston’s eye is new loan signing Thibaut Margalet, who was surprisingly left out last week against the Roughyeds.
Aston confirmed he will make his debut against the Broncos on Sunday, with the Catalans loanee not the only expected switch with the Eagles coach now having the option to change his side after the return of several key players from injury in recent weeks.
“I am really looking forward to seeing Thibaut in action,” Aston added.
“I just thought that last week I owed it to the other players who had done well for me in the Featherstone victory. Should I have done that? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Thibaut will definitely play this week, that’s for sure. I am not pulling any punches, he will play.
“I have seen him in training over the last couple of weeks and he excites me. He is keen to learn, he has been really enthusiastic and he gets all over the field. That is something that we are wanting to see on Sunday.”
Aston confirmed that at this stage Knowles is the only doubt as he looks to name his 19-man squad.
Meanwhile, Dave Hewitt and Jack Blagbrough have joined fellow Championship club Oldham on loan until the end of the season.